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How many times has this happened to you? You go to one of those summer carnivals and amidst cotton candy, hotdogs, and popcorn, you find yourself coming home with a goldfish wrapped up in an air filled plastic bag?

This same scenario happened to me and the very next day I went out and spent a fortune on fish supplies and fish. The local pet store owner joked and said I wasn’t the only one who won at the carnival, we were making him rich! I went out and bought a 20 gallon tank, gravel, filter, plants, and lots of goldfish including fancy orandas, etc.

I was so excited about my tank. I set it up, put the gravel in, arranged the plants, and filled it up with water. Then I just plopped all 10 fish in. I had my very own aquarium, but I wasn’t a very knowledgeable owner, and I paid the price.

Over the next week the tank got very cloudy and dirty and one by one we had "floating fish" and I had to say bon voyage as I flushed their lifeless bodies down the toilet bowl.

I ended up with a beautifully decorated tank and no fish.

What I found out afterwards has made me the proud owner of a beautiful flourishing goldfish tank with 6 happy, healthy goldfish.

My first mistake was I did not properly set up the aquarium. I just decorated it, plugged in the filter, and plopped in the fish. I should have set up the aquarium, plugged in the filter, and let the tank build up healthy amount of bacteria, at least a week or so, before adding the fish. You see, fish are almost constantly emitting ammonia from their bodies and too much ammonia and waste in the tank can kill them. But by setting up the tank and letting bacteria and algae grow you are taking steps to ensure a healthy ecosystem, as the bacteria will eat the waste and cut down on the ammonia in the tank.

And I added way too many fish for the tank, 1 fish per every two gallons should be okay.

The proper procedure is to set up your tank first, including gravel, filter, plants, etc. Then let the tank stand (with the filter running) for about a week. This will help build up a healthy amount of bacteria that will in turn cut back on the amount of ammonia in your tank.

Where you choose to place your tank is very important also. If you place it in the sun your goldfish will have brilliant color but also the sun promotes too much algae and bacteria, more than your tank needs. Put in a place where you will be able to watch and enjoy your new pets.

A filter system is needed to keep the tank clean. An external filter is fine for goldfish, this filter draws up water from the tank, cleans it through a carbon/cotton type mixture, and then pumps the water back into the tank.

Gradually add your fish to the tank, about 1-3 fish per week is a good rule until you have maximum capacity. Adding too many fish at the same time will cause too much waste all at once. Don't overcrowd, the less fish you have the better the water quality, and the better the health of the fish.

Don't Don't Don't overfeed! Goldfish are notorious eaters and will eat and eat till they die. Feed them no more than they can consume in five minutes, and remember the more food in the tank the more polluted it usually becomes.

Goldfish are pretty much compatible with all other types of goldfish, but just keep in mind the fancier the variety of fish the less hardy it becomes. The plainer the goldfish the more hardy it usually is.

Finally, relax and enjoy your aquarium. You have done everything right and should enjoy your new hobby for years to come.